Sir David Attenborough has unveiled a message at the Natural History Museum which states: “The future of the natural world, on which we all depend, is in our hands”.
The museum in South Kensington, London, said the words in bronze letters on the east carriage railing outside its main entrance were inspired by a speech Sir David gave at Cop24 but did not not been taken verbatim.
At the unveiling, the 97-year-old naturalist said: “Each of us should cherish the natural world around us, from the vast countryside to the tiny patches of green in our cities.
“I hope the Urban Nature project and the new museum gardens will bring outdoor learning and inspire young people to continue to appreciate, understand and support the natural world on their doorstep and far beyond.”
Sir David spoke at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), commonly referred to as the COP, in Katowice, Poland, around five years ago.
In 2018, he drew attention to the issue of climate change, saying: “If we don’t act, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world are on the horizon.
Sir David added: “The people have spoken. Leaders of the world, you must lead.
“The continuation of our civilizations and the natural world on which we depend is in your hands.”
The unveiling of the bronze words is part of the museum’s project to transform its gardens into a hub of urban nature and biodiversity.
An existing wildlife garden will be expanded to double the area of native habitats in the park, with the goal of better supporting, monitoring and managing the diversity of animal and plant life.
New outdoor spaces include a life-size bronze Diplodocus immersed in a Jurassic-like landscape, among other exhibits that depict the history of complex life evolving on earth from 540 million years ago to the present day.
The gardens will also house scientific sensors that collect DNA and acoustic environmental data, to monitor nature and strengthen its protection.
Dr Douglas Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum, said: “We were honored to welcome Sir David Attenborough to the museum to unveil his powerful and inspiring words which will overlook our new gardens.
“Knowing that the UK is one of the most nature-poor countries in the world, it is more important than ever to protect wildlife in our urban spaces.
“Through the Urban Nature Project, the museum encourages visitors and young people to explore natural history in new ways, giving them the tools to look to the future and safeguard nature in cities and quoted.”
Sir David, known for voicing BBC nature documentaries such as Blue Planet and Planet Earth, has worked with the museum before.
He brought objects from the museum’s exhibits to life in David Attenborough’s 2014 Sky One documentary Natural History Museum Alive using CGI technology.
The museum then launched a virtual reality guide with Sir David in which he was digitally recreated and the public could watch rare and priceless items from his collection.
This year the documentary Saving Our Wild Isles has arrived on BBC iPlayer, with Sir David telling the stories of people trying to tackle environmental issues in the UK.
The new gardens of the Natural History Museum are scheduled to open in the spring of 2024.